Return to Pen Makers and Their Works


I can tell you very little about this maker.  “Soyuz” is one of the possible transliterations of Союз, the Russian word for “Union”, the first C in CCCP, and as a pen-maker they were indeed doing their thing in the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union was, for those of us born before about 1983, the big international boogeyman; they were “The Commies” who, if not opposed with a vast amount of resolution and potential firepower, would steal the world out from under us and make us all wear unfashionable shoes while working in a mine.  The details of this threat were, I’ll admit, a little vague, but we in “the Free World” (composed mainly of North America, western Europe, Japan and a few portions of the southern hemisphere we frequently forgot about in our insularity) were very concerned about the notion of Soviet aggression and the apparently inevitable nuclear war which would break out.  The Soviets, at least below the level of the ruling party heirarchy, were equally concerned about all the hardware pointed in their direction, and as history since about AD1100 supported a pretty xenophobic world-view for people in that part of the world, it’s relatively amazing that nothing more alarming than a series of small proxy wars came out of the whole thing.

One of the things which we western types pointed out as the folly of the Soviet system was the command economy, in which (so far as we knew) a factory would shift from churning out vast numbers of tractors one year to mountains of baby carriages the next, each with much the same level of care and finish. We were also convinced that all the stuff they made was simply a crude copy of something developed by brainy western folk who were unfettered, creative and several other self-congratulatory things that had little basis in reality. It must be remembered that the Soviet system also produced some reasonably functional spacecraft, so accusations of endemic poor workmanship must be carefully examined for prejudice.

Soyuz pens are one of the products of this command economy.  Even communists need to write stuff down, after all, and so producing pens would naturally happen.  I find it interesting that something even approximating a brand-name was ventured upon, even one that seems to be very much in line with the “Victory” products found in Orwell’s dystopia.  The general fit of the pens I’ve encountered is rather in keeping with what one would expect from a Soviet manufacturer; not shoddy as such, but with a difficult-to-pin air that the tolerances could as easily have been applied to a clothes-iron and the materials to a Lada sedan.  While not incapable of producing well-made items, the Soviet system was inclined to function-before-form, although this was overlaid on a Russian predisposition to rococo decorative impulses.  Even when a Soyuz pen is clearly following a western design, it is just as clearly not a western pen.

All the Soyuz pens I’ve seen come from after the Second World War, which is probably just an effect of my location relative to the place of production.  I’ve seen no French pens from before 1948, but I’m willing to accept that some exist.

Models I’ve examined; because of my limited exposure and even more limited research material, I am not arranging the following list chronologically as I usually do:

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